For the fourth time in seven years the Central Lakes College Raiders are softball champions of the Minnesota Community College Conference.
The Raiders swept Fergus Falls and Northland on Saturday and Ridgewater twice on Sunday on their way to the title at Bob Cross Fields in Sauk Rapids.
"This weekend it was defense and pitching when it comes right down to it, and just working together as a team," Raiders coach Bob Sullivan said.
CLC raised its record to 35-1 as it qualified for the best-of-three Region 13B tournament Friday at Grand Rapids against Northland. CLC has beaten Northland six times this season.
The Raiders beat Ridgewater 4-0 in Sunday's first game and 2-1 for the championship.
The key: CLC cracked 35 hits in four games
Overall: CLC 35-1.
Next: CLC vs. Northland at 10 a.m. Friday at Itasca in Grand Rapids in best-of-three Region 13B tournament.
Olivia Graham was the winning pitcher in Sunday's first game. She gave up only four hits while walking one and striking out five in seven innings while raising her record to 13-0.
Lindsey Latour and Ali Mathison each had two hits and Kjelsy Loeffler doubled for CLC.
Later Sunday, Malerie Riewer pitched a complete game as the Raiders edged Ridgewater 2-1 in the final. Riewer limited Ridgewater to one earned run, struck out three and walked one.
Latour and Mathison again had two hits apiece.
"The girls are very confident right now," Sullivan said. "The only thing I wish we could have done is hit a little bit better. Our defense was very strong, giving up three runs in four games, and our pitching's been strong. We layed down bunts when we had to get bunts down. We had one blowout with Northland where we hit four home runs. The girls are just hitting.
"Malerie hit two of them, which was a little unusual for her, but she has gotten stronger. I think the girls worked out a lot more this year than in the past. They were more faithful in the weight room and I think that contributed to a lot of their hitting."
Sullivan said first baseman Calliegh Johnson twisted an ankle Saturday and was unable to play Sunday. X-rays taken of her ankle were negative.
"It was pretty swollen today," Sullivan said, "so we're not sure if she will be back for the region. Hopefully, we can get by without her, at least those region games, and give her time to heal if we're fortunate to win the region and go on to nationals."
Game 1 Sunday
Ridgewater 0 4 0
Central Lakes 4 8 1
WP: Olivia Graham. LP: Rittenour. 2B: CLC-Kjelsy Loeffler. RBIs: Loeffler, Brittany Thorson.
Game 2 Sunday
Ridgewater 1 12 1
Central Lakes 2 7 1
WP: Malerie Riewer. LP: Quunan. RBIs: CLC-Ali Mathison.
CLC 10, Northland 1
Riewer hit two home runs and Johnson and Brittany Thorson each hit one as the Raiders thumped the Pioneers in their second game Saturday.
Johnson, Latour, Thorson, Izzy Anderson and Loeffler each had two hits.
Riewer pitched a five-inning complete game, giving up five hits and one earned run. She struck out five and walked none.
Northland 1 5 0
Central Lakes 10 15 0
WP: Malerie Riewer. LP: Cobbins. 2B: CLC-Loeffler 2. HR: CLC-Johnson, Riewer 2, Thorson. RBIs: CLC-Johnson 2, Latour, Riewer 4, Thorson, Loeffler.
CLC 3, Fergus Falls 1
Bridget Badger homered for the Raiders and winning pitcher Olivia Graham limited the Spartans to six hits. Graham struck out seven and walked one with no earned runs.
Loeffler and Latour doubled as CLC was limited to five hits, three for extra bases.
MSCTC-Fergus Falls 1 6 1
Central Lakes 3 5 3
WP: Olivia Graham. LP: Evavold. 2B: CLC-Loeffler, Latour. HR: CLC-Badger. RBIs: Badger, Brittany Thorson, Malerie Riewer.
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